Vacations signify different things to different people. For some, it is a chance to enjoy being waited on hand and foot; and for others it is an opportunity to explore the world and have adventures, without being a slave to the economic trappings of the hospitality industry. A third category of travellers – one growing significantly in size every year – prefers to marry these two opposing concepts by patronising luxury villas and homestays.
Though they have been popular for over a decade, it was the pandemic that catapulted homestays – especially of the luxurious kind – to the preferred choice for travellers. Hence, luxury villa rental services have witnessed immense growth, becoming absolutely de rigueur post-2020. However, can this trend sustain itself with the return to a semblance of pre-pandemic normalcy? Are people craving the promised comfort of traditional hospitality where all needs are taken care of? Or will they continue to choose the homely comforts of rental villas?
“The concept of homestays in India are generally considered a cost effective option in comparison to hotels and resorts. In fact, usually, they are not considered as luxurious and comfortable as hotels. Through our venture, ‘Barefoot Bungalow’, we wanted to break this myth and give our guests the comfort and luxury of a premium property along with the privacy and individuality of their own space,” says Harpal Singh Gulati, who converted his family holiday home in Buranshkhanda in Mussoorie, Uttarakhand into a luxury homestay villa in June 2021. Since opening, they have had a good response with many families and group of friends choosing to stay with them.
A group that understood the lure of luxury offerings is StayVista, which till quite recently was known as Vista Rooms. Ankita Sheth, one of the co-founders, highlights their brand ethos as embodying the luxury and comfort of high-quality service amidst scenic vistas. With nearly 500 properties around India and Dubai, StayVista’s vision has grown and expanded over the years. “We attempt to bring a resort-like experience to holiday homes. The pandemic changed things for the travel industry. Since travel is an essential element of life, and our remote villas promise safe and hygienic luxury, we are seeing more bookings than we have seen previously. This pent-up demand has led to us onboarding an additional 50-60 luxurious properties in the last few months,” she explains.
A huge advantage of the luxury rental villa experience is the ability to simulate the ease and comfort of home while still enjoying the experience of a vacation. Those who need to work, can do so in large unhindered spaces, in their own time. Govind Gaur, co-founder of WanderOn, a group travel service catering to a younger audience, launched his vertical Workcations during the pandemic. This platform lists the best rental properties suitable for those who prefer to work away from home in pretty environs.
According to data published on Statista.com, the revenue growth of this travel segment is projected to reach US$1,213 million in 2022. Hence, it seems there will be no hindrance to the continued success of villa rental services. Pamela Mukherjee, Travel YouTuber on ‘Every Corner Of World’ shares her views on the subject, “It is a trend these days to work from mountains or beaches. When someone sees the videos of different staycations, BnBs or villas, they too want to travel more and work from exotic locations for longer periods of time.” Luxury villa rentals are certainly a trend, but one that seems to be here to stay